While still struggling with the Phoenix, a mysterious force is plaguing Scott Summers and it's a force that's frighteningly similar. In addition, a powerful warrior becomes involved and the Xmen fa...
Chapter 4: Enter The Hellfire Club
The upscale world of downtown Manhattan was a buzz with activity in the heart of the classy upper echelons of society. It was a place where extravagance was the norm and tonight was no exception. And after having received their invitation, the X-men were there to soak up the ambience.
The gathering took place at a large Victorian style mansion. There were lines of stretch limos delivering some of the biggest names of the shady underworld of the upper class. Many of them weren't recognizable since this was a group that kept a low profile, but in this elitist world there were few equals to the elite club of Hellfire.
The X-men arrived in full formal attire. Professor Xavier led his core student body Scott, Jean, Logan, Ororo, Rogue, Remy, Kitty, Piotr, Bobby, Jubilee, Kurt, and Amanda. Hank, however, chose to stay behind and watch over the school. Laura also stayed to help since she wasn't much of a party person. But Scott and Jean did decide to bring Rachel since the invitation stipulated that all were welcome, families included.
"Man, talk about high end!" said Jubilee as she followed the others through the heavy security and affluent surroundings, "I'll bet a bottle of water costs a fortune here!"
"Can't say I'd be surprised, kid," said Logan as he took in the elaborate structure, "I didn't know ya ran with such a swanky crowd, Chuck."
"Well normally I don't, but my family did have extensive ties to the elite so I suppose I was never taken off their exclusive list," said Xavier, now in a hover chair in order to help him ascend the stairs, "And given how reclusive some of these people are, I would say that's quite a feat."
"Reclusive? I thought this was a social club?" said Amanda, walking hand in hand with her fiancÃ©, who had his image inducer on.
"It is. But Hellfire has always had a rather shady reputation. Many of the members, both high and low, are from the wealthiest families in the world. They're very strict about keeping with tradition and they go to great lengths to guard their anonymity."
"Sounds kind of fishy if ya ask me," said Logan, his enhanced senses heightened upon hearing this.
"Oh you t'ink everything's suspicious, homme," scoffed Remy.
"And sometimes I'm right."
"Oh lighten up, Herr Volverine!" said Kurt as he gave his former instructor a friendly pat on the back, "This is a party! Ve should enjoy it!"
"Well said, Kurt. And rest assured, I'm going to make sure he has a little fun," said Ororo as she hooked arms with her boyfriend and led him inside.
Although Logan was still apprehensive about this shady social club as they called it, he did lighten up as he felt Ororo's gentle grip. She always had a way of easing his tense nature, but there was still something about this place he didn't like.
Over with Scott and Jean, they kept most of their attention diverted towards Rachel, who had fallen asleep in the car. She was wearing a pretty little pink and white dress that she often wore on special occasions and Jean was wearing a long, elegant red dress that went perfectly with her hair and elegantly graced her womanly curves.
She stood side by side with her husband, who was holding his sleeping daughter. They didn't say much as they passed through the elaborate halls that were decorated with magnificent gold chandeliers and a vast collection of priceless art. But for some reason, Jean couldn't help but get this strange feeling as they were all led to the main ballroom.
It was as if something very dark was looming over her, like the shadow of an unseen figure she could not see or sense. It sent shivers down her spine and she found herself looking over her shoulder constantly as if to catch this presence. Such actions did not go unnoticed by Scott, but being the woman she was, she did not let it show.
"Jean? Sweetheart, are you alright?" asked Scott as he watched her hesitate slightly.
Taking a few deep breaths, Jean Grey-Summers shook it off. Her mind was just playing tricks on her again. Nothing was wrong. She was just being overly paranoid. At least, that's what she kept telling herself.
"It's okay babe. Really, I'm fine," she said, flashing her husband a warm smile, "Now come on, let's enjoy this night."
Finally, as the whole team entered the ballroom, the announcer's voice sounded to welcome their arrival.
"Announcing Professor Charles Xavier and his staff of the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters."
"Easy there Jeeves," said Bobby, not used to this high end class, "We know who we are."
"Bobby!" scorned Kitty as she elbowed him in the ribs, "Mind your manners. This isn't some college frat party."
"That's for sure," he muttered, "They have better music."
"Oh don't be picky, comrade," said Piotr, who seemed a bit more optimistic about this place, "Just think of it as a step outside the norm."
"We live in a house of mutants, Peter," he reminded, "Can't get much further from the norm than that."
"You're impossible, you know that?" commented Jubilee.
"Hey, that's just the Iceman way," shrugged Bobby as he took a few appetizers from a nearby tray, "Besides, it's not like we haven't seen anything too fancy that would..."
Suddenly, Bobby was cut off by a presence that would have silenced any man. She was wearing a very fancy, very revealing white outfit that looked like a mix between lingerie and formal dress. She bore perfect blonde hair that flowed halfway down her back, white lipstick that made her lips plush with femininity, and a v-shaped cut in her upper gown that showed off some very impressive cleavage.
Such a sight caused Bobby's eyes to widen with astonishment and despite Jubilee's annoyance, the young woman made her presence known.
"Professor Charles Xavier," she said with a picture perfect smile, "It's been too long."
"That it most certainly has, my dear," said the Professor as he smiled back and shook the young woman's hand, "Everyone, this is Emma Frost, an old student of mine back from before I formed the institute. Emma, I'd like you to meet my fellow teachers and staff of the Xavier Institute."
"A pleasure to meet you, Ms Frost," said Ororo as she extended her hand.
"Oh the pleasure's all here, darling," said Emma, gracefully accepting the gesture, "It's wonderful that you all could make it."
"Yeah...Wonderful," said Bobby, sounding as though he was in another world.
"Bobby!" spat Jubilee.
Emma couldn't help but laugh. She hadn't expected Xavier to have staff that was so young. And these two were barely out of college. Near as she could sense, her attire was attracting the boy and causing him to think a few racy thoughts. But she was used to such reactions from young men. Besides, she was more focused on Charles than anyone else.
"So you were a student of Xavier's?" asked Scott, wondering why the Professor had never told them about her.
"Indeed I was," she said as she playfully ran her finger down Xavier's face, "In fact, I owe this man a lot. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have learned how to gain control of my powers."
"Oh, so you're a mutant?" asked Jean.
"Don't tell me you're surprised," she said with a chuckle, "But yes, I am a mutant, a telepath to be precise."
"A blonde telepath. Wow, what'll they think of next?" said Bobby, still fixated on the 'other' aspects of Emma's features.
Bobby's words earned him another elbow to the ribs from both Jubilee and Rogue. Even as a college graduate he retained that immaturity that so defined him.
But despite this, Emma ignored him and shifted her attention to the little girl that Scott was carrying.
"And who might this little one be?" she said as Rachel stirred from her sleepy state.
"This would be my daughter, Rachel," said Scott proudly as she shifted Rachel in his arms so she could greet the older woman, "I hope it's okay that we brought her."
"Not at all darling," replied Emma, "Besides, a place like this could use a little innocent cuteness, don't you think so?"
Rachel laughed and smiled as she felt Emma tickle her chin. While she may not have considered herself as having a lot of maternal instincts, working with so many kids and running a school did give her an appreciation for the young.
"You're funny! And your hair is pretty!" cooed Rachel as she reached out to touch her shining, blonde hair.
"Why thank you. That's probably the nicest thing I've heard all evening," she smiled, "But enough about me. Come Charles, I'm sure we have plenty to catch up on. As for the rest of you, feel free to sample the food or enjoy the music. This is a party so enjoy yourselves!"
"Now you're talking my language!" said Kurt, making his way to the buffet with Amanda following close behind.
"Oh boy...Kurt and a buffet," sighed Kitty.
"That's mah little brother," muttered Rogue.
"Ah let him enjoy himself, cherÃ¨. Let dat femme of his keep him in line like she always does," said Remy as he slipped his arm around his wife's waist, "In the meantime, what do ya say we enjoy our evening?"
"Always the charmer, aren't ya swamp rat?"
"Hey, would ya have Remy any other way?"
"Not for a moment."
And with that, Rogue and Remy made their way to the dance floor while the others split up. Some, like Bobby, Jubilee, Kurt, and Amanda, went to sample the food, but other, namely Ororo and Logan, followed Rogue and Remy's example and made their way to the dance floor. Kitty and Piotr stayed back since Piotr seemed more drawn to the surrounding artwork and being the artist he was, he just had to stop and take note.
For Scott and Jean, however, they spent a few moments taking in the overall ambience of this place. Neither of them had ever seen anything like it. Everything was so rich and vibrant. And for a couple of school teachers, it was definitely a new experience.
"Nice place they got here," commented Scott as he looked over the crowd.
"Yeah, really fancy," said Jean in agreement, "Not too many kids though."
"I noticed that too," said Scott as he looked back down at his ever curious daughter, "Guess we'll just have to make the best of it. Are you going to be okay?"
"Of course, Scott. I told you, I'm fine," said Jean, getting a little annoyed.
"Good enough for me," said Scott, quickly backing down at the subtle tone in her voice, "In that case, why don't we grab a bite to eat before Kurt and Bobby wolf it down?"
"Good thinking, hun," said Jean with a smile as she followed her husband over towards the tables, "Besides, I think the Professor wants to catch up with that Emma woman. Call me crazy, but I think she had a bit of an inkling for him."
"Yeah, I noticed that too," said Scott with a slight laugh, "But she seemed real happy to see him."
"Daddy what's an inkling?" asked Rachel.
"I'll...Tell you when her older, baby."
"You always say that, Daddy."
"And I'll keep saying it, sweetheart" he said playfully as he tickled his little girl's face, "In the meantime, let's get you some nourishment. I doubt we'll ever get a chance to have food this rich."
As the young family disappeared into the crowd, Professor Charles Xavier followed Emma Frost towards the central stage area where a symphony was playing classical music. Along the way, they both picked up some drinks and orderves, but the Professor remained very much interested as to why his former student had called them out of the blue like this.
"So how are things at your Academy of Tomorrow, Emma?" asked the Professor, starting things off light.
"They're fine," she said casually, not making eye contact as she focused more on her drink, "The students really seem to enjoy the academic environment. For many of them, it's the first school they've been to where they weren't outcasts. Granted, there are a few who take advantage of it, but for the most part I'm very proud of it."
"And you should be, my dear," said the Professor with a smile, "I remember you telling me all those years ago how you wanted to be a teacher. I think it's a very noble path to follow. My only regret is that you didn't stick around to become part of my institute. We certainly could have used your help."
"I appreciate the sentiment, Charles, but you know why I never took you up on that offer. Your whole setup of a school and mutant paramilitary task force all rolled into one just seemed a bit...Counterproductive in my opinion."
"Yes, I know you were always vocal about that," sighed Xavier upon seeing that he and his former student still bore the same divisions that had torn them apart, "But my ideas have evolved over the years. The nature of my institute has changed."
"That still doesn't make me feel any better about it. But I don't want to focus on that. You know as well as I do what that leads to."
"Yes, I remember," said Xavier in a distant tone, "Is that why you haven't kept in touch after all these years?"
"It's...Complicated Charles," said Emma, her voice becoming wearier as she felt the Professor's curious eyes on her.
"Complicated? Is that why you're also shutting me out of your mind? I noticed you've been rather adamant about guarding it since I've arrived."
Emma bit her lip, for she had been hoping this wouldn't come up. She knew full well that Xavier was a man of principle and he never looked into somebody's mind without their permission, but that didn't stop him from picking up subtle hints. And for both their sakes, she couldn't afford to have him catch any stray thoughts.
"I have my reasons just as you have yours," she finally answered, using all her skill to put on a convincing face, "Besides, I thought you would be proud of me for learning to make such strong mental blocks on my own."
"I am proud of you, Emma. I've always been proud of how far you've come," said the Professor in a sincere tone as he put his hand on her shoulder, "You were my student and don't think for a minute that I had forgotten about you after all these years. I just wish we could have talked more rather than let our differences in ideas get in the way."
Now Emma was really feeling the sting. This was the man who helped her take control of her life. Without him, she probably would have ended up in a nuthouse. And looking into those wise, caring eyes of his was just painful because she knew that what she was doing right now was wrong on so many levels. But what other choice did she have?
"Listen Charles, I..."
However, before Emma could even begin her train of thought, she was cut off by an imposing presence.
"Professor Charles Xavier," said Sebastian Shaw as he appeared out of the crowd from the VIP lounge in the back, "At long last, we finally meet."
Emma's demeanor shifted upon hearing that voice, but she hid it as Xavier's attention was diverted to the middle aged man now standing before him. He was holding a glass of fine red wine, casually swirling it about as if to flaunt his status and bore what looked like a 19th century style suit straight out of a Victorian era. His hair was long, his poise was strong, and everything about him seemed groomed to perfection.
Yet despite this classy look, his presence was a little ominous to the Professor. Like Emma, he sensed his mind was heavily guarded. But he didn't have time to contemplate such things as the powerful man greeted him with a welcoming gesture.
"Emma, my dear, I thought I told you to let me know when Professor Xavier arrived. You know how much I've been wanting to shake his hand," said Shaw in a sophisticated tone.
"Sorry Sebastian, but you know me. I love to catch up with old friends," she said, her voice becoming flat in order to hide the sarcasm she so desperately wanted to throw in.
"I understand completely," he said with an almost sneaky grin, "But look at me carrying on like this. Where are my manners? Professor Xavier, my name is Sebastian Shaw. And I happen to be the head of this illustrious club that we call Hellfire."
"Yes, well it's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Shaw," said Xavier as he shook his hand, quickly learning that his grip was stronger than it looked.
"Oh the pleasure is all mine, Charles," smiled Shaw as he then turned back to Emma, "My dear queen, why don't you see to it that our guest's staff are comfortable? In the meantime, I would very much like to talk to you, Professor. There's so much I wish to discuss."
"Of course," said Emma, still hiding the distaste in her tone, "I'll do that."
"Oh, and while you're at it, why don't you do a quick check on the back room? I would very much like things to be 'ready' for when the time comes."
"Don't worry...It will."
Emma made a quick retreat after that, almost too quick. But he didn't have time to contemplate such things as Emma disappeared into the crowd and Shaw took over. And despite his imposing presence, he seemed very much enthralled to meet the Professor.
"Ah Emma Frost. She's a lovely woman, is she not?" commented Shaw as he watched her make her way through the crowd.
"Indeed she is," said Xavier in agreement, "But why did you invite me and my staff? And how is it that you know Emma?"
Shaw chuckled at that. He knew Xavier was no dope, but he was still every bit as naÃ¯ve as he had anticipated.
"You're a fast one, Charles. Your reputation is well deserved. But to answer your question, yes...I was the one who got Emma to invite you. She and I used to be 'associates' before she went off to form her little school. And besides, she owed me a favor. I would have done it myself, but I figured it would be better you heard it from her. After all, you two were rather close if I'm not mistaken."
"We were," said the Professor, still a bit curious in regards to the suddenness of Emma's call, "But not in the way I'm sure you suspect. We were just teacher and student."
"Oh come now, Professor. I know better than that. But enough banter, I'm sure you're curious as to why I invited you."
"Yes, very much so. This is all a bit sudden."
"I won't argue that my good man, but you must understand this exclusive club of ours prefers to remain private. We aren't a publicly known organization, but our list of members is unparalleled. Some of the biggest names are amongst our ranks and the history of our organization goes back many years. Our branches are worldwide and our influence is vast. Yet all the while, we prefer to live in a clandestine manner, a trait I'm sure you understand full well."
"Yes, I do. And I take it you have mutants amongst your ranks as well?"
Again, Shaw was impressed by Xavier's perceptive abilities.
"Like I said, you are a smart one, Charles. But yes, mutants are among our ranks. In fact, many of our highest ranking members are mutants...Myself included."
"You're a mutant?" said Xavier with a surprised look.
"Yes, but don't tell my shareholders that," he said jokingly, "I have the power to take any force that's been dealt to me and return it with twice the power. It makes me strong in a world where it doesn't pay to be weak. And in a club like this, you need all the help you can get in order to move up. And my powers have served me well over the years. My holdings are quite comfortable as you can probably guess."
"I most certainly wouldn't doubt that," said Xavier as he once again looked over at some of the expensive ambience surrounding this place, "This party is proof enough of that."
"All part of the game my good man," said Shaw, trying to sound modest, "My vast array of companies give me the resources to enjoy the 'finer' things in life. You see, people like us, both in terms of mutantcy and money, are a special breed. We are the strong, the iron fist that allows civilization to fight off a world so full of impurities. We are the only ones fit to guide this species of ours. I'm sure you know full well how barbaric humanity can be."
"Yes, well I think barbaric may be a bit of a stretch. I have always harbored a deep respect for mankind and part of why I do what I do is out of that respect."
"And that's something I greatly admire you for, Charles. I've read up on your family and you have quite an illustrious bloodline. And if the rumors I hear about what you keep underneath that institute of yours is any indication, you must have very good contacts as well."
Xavier was a bit unnerved by such words. He had always been adamant about keeping certain parts of his institute hidden from the public eye. It was part of the reason why he didn't like to show it to the parents of new students. And rumor or no rumor, Shaw sounded like a man who didn't comment on something unless he was sure he was right. He knew his type all too well and the more he talked to him, the more it started to show.
"Rumors? Where did you hear rumors like that?" he asked.
"Oh you'd be surprised what kind of gossip will escape the lips of the careless. I know because it's one of the many tools I use to make my businesses successful. You see...Like you, I also recognize the plight of mutants. I believe they should not be forever doomed to second class citizenship. That's why many of my companies employ mutants. In fact, I probably have more mutants working for me than any man alive."
"And yet you manage to keep it all under wraps?"
"But of course," he said in a cocky tone, "That's only good business sense. Some people frown upon the notion of employing mutants, but I have already profited greatly from them. I have a fire conjuring mutant in Japan who helps my industrial companies mine mineral resources at a rate that puts modern technology to shame. I have a strapping young computer whiz who works security details in my primary offices and since then, we've never had a single breach."
"That's very generous of you, Mr. Shaw," said Xavier, although he did find it somewhat suspicious since he had never heard of such practices.
"Oh it has nothing to do with generosity, Professor," laughed Shaw, "You see the structure of this world has always revolved around who has the power and who has the money. And as long as mutants have neither, then they will never been seen as equals in the eyes of humanity. I like to feel as though my companies are leveling the playing field because I pay mutants a great deal to use their skills for profit and the more influence we get, the more we'll be able to assert ourselves in a world where the weak are weeded out."
Shaw's words were reminiscent of Magneto. And near as he could tell, this man believed every word he was saying. Growing up in an affluent world, the Professor knew men like this and Shaw took those traits of the rich and powerful and pushed them to the extremes.
Yet still, the Professor maintained his poise. This man may have sounded sincere, but when it came to potentially unsavory characters, Xavier didn't need telepathy to figure them out.
"And is this why you invited me and my staff to this party?" asked Xavier as he pieced together a few bits of the puzzle, "Do you wish to comb my students for potential employees?"
"Oh Charles, you make it sound as though I had an ulterior motive," laughed Shaw, "But if you wish to take advantage of my resources, I'd be more than happy to give some of your students jobs in my organization. After all, with the current social climate, do you really think they'll be able to find suitable jobs outside your school?"
As much as Xavier hated to admit it, he did have a point. Anti-mutant sentiment had been growing a lot lately and as much as he tried to give his students and education, they often lacked the resources to do anything with it. And while this man was still a bit worrisome in his mind, he could still see some valid points to his argument.
"But believe me Xavier, that is not the only reason I invited you here," said Shaw as he finished his wine, "You see, in addition to my belief in economic power, the Hellfire Club is also very keen on spiritual power as well. Tonight is actually very special for us all. Later on, we're having a private ceremony to commemorate our growth as an organization. And I was hoping that you and your staff would be interested in helping our glorious organization flourish even more by gracing us with your presence."
"That depends Mr. Shaw," said Xavier in response, "Before I can even consider that, I'd like very much to know just what exactly this 'ceremony' is."
Shaw smiled ominously as he set his whine glass onto a plate being carried by one of his many servants, but as he did so, he gave the young man, who was also dressed in similar Victorian style attire, a subtle nod, which signaled the other servants to make an unexpected exit.
"Patience Xavier. Patience," he said as he watched more of the servants acknowledge his subtle little sign, "All will be revealed in due time."
While Xavier conversed with Sebastian Shaw, the rest of his staff continued to enjoy the party, dancing and sampling the fine cuisine. Bobby, Jubilee, Kurt, and Amanda hung back for the most part, taking advantage of being surrounded by so much rich food that they probably never would have been able to sample otherwise.
They avoided talking to the rest of the somewhat snobbish crowd. In many ways, they were a little creepy. Many of them were casting them weird gazes. And while they thought this was because they just looked down on them for not being part of their breed, in some ways it seemed different...Almost as if they all knew something that they didn't.
"Man, this crowd is CREEPY," said Jubilee, nearly gagging upon tasting some caviar.
"Tell me about it," said Amanda, "I swear, they're all just toying with us."
"Vell just try not to make eye contact, liebe," assured Kurt, who was used to avoiding such gazes, "Let's not let our night be tainted by some rich snobs."
"You're right, hun," said Amanda as she snaked her arm around her fiancÃ©'s waist, "And bearing that in mind, what do you say we head on out and dance with the other couples?"
"But zhey haven't even served desert yet!" exclaimed Kurt.
"Come on blue boy...Dancing now, desert later," grinned Amanda as she literally dragged her future husband by the ear out onto the dance floor.
That left just Bobby and Jubilee on the sidelines and in some ways, Jubilee left out that she was the only one not out on the dance floor. She could see Rogue and Remy getting close, whispering their usual 'sweet nothings' into one another's ear. Kitty and Piotr were doing the same thing with Kitty giggling with glee as she soaked up the feeling of having her boyfriend's strong arms around her.
Scott and Jean were also out there teaching Rachel how to dance elegantly, having a little family fun in the process whenever she tripped. Even Logan and Ororo seemed to be sharing a moment.
"Something wrong, Jubes?" said Bobby with a mouth still half full of food.
Turning to her long time love interest, she simply flashed him a sneaky smile.
"You know, there are a lot of couples out there," she said musingly as she moved in closer to Bobby.
"Um...Yeah, I noticed that too," said Bobby, abruptly swallowing what was in his mouth in a nervous gulp.
There was a brief silence, one that made Bobby all the more nervous. He wasn't much of a fancy snob. He was more a party boy who liked to have fun. Jubilee knew this very well since they both had shared many of these tastes while they were students. But when it came to moments like this, he was practically handicapped. And if he wasn't going to make a move, then Jubilee knew that it was up to her.
"Come on, Iceman! Don't get cold feet on me now," she said jokingly as she drew him out onto the dance floor, "I think you've had enough food for the night. Now come on and dance with me! You may just like it."
"Um...Okay, but I..."
Bobby didn't get a chance to finish as Jubilee dragged him out onto the floor. As she took him into the thick of the crowd, they both passed Rogue and Remy, who bore some amused looks as they saw the way Jubilee had taken the initiative.
"Now who's whipped, homme?" said Remy.
"Shut up Gambit," muttered Bobby.
While they both got started, Scott and Jean stayed close to their daughter so she wouldn't get lost in the crowd. They were trying to show her how to dance, but she just had too much energy in her system. At one point, they gave up and began swaying to the music as a family and enjoying this little moment of peace.
"This is nice, Scott...Very nice," said Jean as she picked up her little girl and let her rest a bit, "I think a little family time is just what I needed."
"Yeah, me too," he said, smiling warmly as he held the two most beautiful women on the face of the planet in his arms, "I was worried there for a while."
"Well you don't have to worry anymore, babe," said Jean, leaning in close to his warmth, "As long as I have you and the munchkin here, I'll be okay."
"Hey! I'm not a munchkin!" said Rachel upon hearing that, "I'm a big girl!"
"That you are. And yet you're still growing," grinned Scott as he tickled his daughter's chin, causing her to giggle.
While the young couple and their daughter continued to go about their night, Logan's gaze fell on them from afar. He still had his arms around Ororo's waist, enjoying the feeling of having a living goddess to dance with, but seeing Scott, Jean, and Rachel sharing these cute family moments together made him think about his own family, namely Laura.
"Are you alright, Logan?" asked Ororo as she noticed the shift in his demeanor.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said, quickly shifting his attention back to the beautiful woman before him.
"Still thinking about Laura, aren't you?" she said with a slight grin.
Logan let out a sigh. No matter what he did he just couldn't hide anything from Ororo. In some ways, fighting Sabretooth was easier than being this open, but he had come to trust the former weather goddess. However, that didn't mean he liked to show it.
"Yeah, I guess I am," he admitted, "Every time I see those two and little Red like this, it just makes me remember how Laura and I never got to share those moments together. Hell, I didn't even know she existed until she was 14."
"She's still your daughter, Logan. You're still the one she calls 'daddy.'"
"I know. But I just don't feel like much of a dad when I wasn't even there for half her life."
Logan's morose tone prompted Ororo to shift his gaze back towards her. Since they had started dating, she had come to see the kind of heart this man had. He was a tortured soul, but she never doubted his commitment to the students or the love he bore for his adopted daughter. And sometimes, he just had to be reminded of that.
"Logan, don't ever let me hear you say you're not that much of a dad," she said in a sincere, yet almost threatening tone, "You took Laura in when she had nowhere to go. You were there for her in every conceivable way that makes you her father. And if I ever catch you thinking otherwise, then I'm just going to use all the forces of nature to cram it into your head."
Logan couldn't help but smile at his girlfriend's unorthodox way of getting a point across. While she may have been a kind, wise, and caring woman, she did have a tough side to her that set her apart from every other woman he knew.
"You're somethin' else, ya know that, darlin'?" he said, flashing her his famous Wolverine grin.
"You know it, bub," she retorted before capturing his lips with hers in a deep kiss.
It was a moment for which neither Logan nor Ororo had a lot of experience with. Their relationship had been so sudden. All it took was one dance at Rogue and Remy's wedding. Sure, it had taken some time to manifest, but only now was it truly siking in for the both of them.
Things between them were getting very serious and as with that first night together, they had every intention of making this night all the more memorable.
Then suddenly, while they were still lip locked, Logan picked up something that sent his heightened senses on high alert. Without warning, the large doors that they had entered through were closed and locked. In taking a closer look, Logan noticed that other doors were closed off as well, leaving pretty much every possible exit sealed.
This did not sit well with him. It didn't matter how private Hellfire was, nobody went about sealing them in an enclosed area without having a good reason. And for Logan, he had a gut feeling that he wouldn't like that reason when he found out.
"Logan? Logan, what's wrong?" said Ororo, sensing the shift in his demeanor.
Before he could answer, he saw Emma Frost out of the corner of his eye. She was standing at a door near the windows, scanning the area nervously, as if she was checking for any sort of suspicious gazes that came her way. Logan knew what that entailed. She was preparing to do something major. She was preparing to make a move of sorts.
"Get to the Professor, Ro," said Logan as he broke their embrace and cautiously walked in the direction where Emma was going, "Something's wrong."
"Wrong? Logan what are you..." she began, but Logan was already off.
"I'm gonna investigate!" he said as he plowed through the maze of people, "Just get to the Prof and make sure nothing happens!"
Not arguing with Logan's intuition, Ororo made her way towards the VIP area. But before she could even get halfway, she was suddenly overcome by this pounding headache and this overpowering sense of exhaustion. It was as if somebody had just gone into her brain and flipped the switch for sleep.
"Ugh...What the..." she began, but it was too late.
And she wasn't the only one. The rest of the staff, including young Rachel, began to feel the affects of this strange sensation.
"Mommy...Mommy, my head hurts," said Rachel as she clutched her temples.
"I...I know, Baby," said Jean as she began to feel it too, "Something...Something's going on! My mind, it..."
"Jean..." groaned Scott as he too was overcome by mind draining power of whatever it was that was causing this.
They both clung to their little girl, wanting to protect their daughter. Nobody else around them seemed affected. They just kept going on as if they didn't have a care in the world. Rogue, Remy, Kurt, Amanda, Bobby, and Jubilee soon followed, feeling as though somebody had just entered their minds and hit their brain with a sledge hammer.
This reeked of mutant interference, telepathy to be precise. It was strong...Very strong in fact. But the only telepaths they knew were Jean, the Professor, and Emma Frost. However, before such suspicious could sink in, it all went black for the X-men.
Logan, however, managed to fight it as he scrambled to the door. Finding that it was locked, he drew his claws and sliced through it like tissue paper. He could feel his mind being hit with the same telepathic force that was attacking the others, but his mind was more adept to psychics and he was running on pure adrenaline, ready to tear into whoever was doing this with a vengeance.
Once he was through the door, he was barely standing. He hoped to find Emma Frost on the other side, but instead he was met with another ominous figure who was dressed in the same manner that Sebastian Shaw was.
"My, my Mr. Wolverine," said the man, "You're not looking so well."
"Out of my way, bub!" grunted Logan, trying to filter out the pain, "Where's the blonde?"
"Oh Emma? She had to step out for a minute. It would be wise if you left her and rejoined your friends."
"To hell with that! Either step aside or call an undertaker! Because I'm NOT lettin' some rich prick stand in my way!"
"Suit yourself," shrugged the man.
Then, as Logan made a lunge at the man, he was unexpectedly hit square in the chest by a single punch and as soon as he felt it, it was as if he had been rammed by a fright train.
"Rrrrahhhhhhhhh!" he yelled as he was sent flying through the window at breakneck speeds, plunging to the hard pavement below, only to slam right through a sewer duct.
The noise didn't cause much of a stir. If anything, the man who delivered it seemed enjoy what he had just done. Cracking his knuckles, they made a strange metallic sounding noise. And as he surveyed the area outside where the burly mutant had plummeted, he grinned as he picked up a small communicator and spoke into it.
"Shaw, this is Pierce. One of Xavier's goons tried to make a break for it, but I set him straight. He's down in the sewers now. I'm sending a team down there to find him, but he shouldn't interfere with the ceremony. I'll meet you in the chamber. Over and out."
Back in the main hall, Shaw had heard Pierce's report through an earpiece. Looking down at Xavier, he could see he was sensing something. The telepathic burst that was knocking out his students was also attacking him, but given his abilities, he managed to resist it.
One by one, his students fell. The rest of the guests remained oblivious, probably because whoever was doing this was making it so it didn't register in their minds. He knew only a handful of people were capable of something on this scale and there was only one person in his mind who could have possibly been behind this.
"Emma!" he said, clutching his head, "Shaw, what's the meaning of this?!"
The Black King laughed as he looked down at the helpless Professor. Reaching into his pocket, he took out a small cloth laced with Chloroform and covered his mouth with it until he passed out. As strong a psychic as he was, he couldn't do much when he was unconscious.
"Rest easy, Professor. It may be the last peaceful rest you ever have," he said ominously as his henchmen drag the X-men off, "You'll know soon enough. Mark my word, you'll all bear witness to the power of Hellfire."
AN: Let the chaos begin! Don't forget to tell me what you all think! Do you like this story so far? I'd love to know! Send me your reviews via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Thank you all very much for reading and I wish you all the best!
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